Change My Heart

Life is full of changes. We all know this, right? We have all experienced big and little changes in life, some people experience more drastic changes than others. As I write this, I am basking in the joy of my seventh wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband. Today we were recounting just a few of the changes that life has brought us in the past seven years. Four daughters, seven jobs between us, and four houses to name a few. If I am being completely honest however, I am not good at change.change Britney Bradley

I have learned over the past year how desperately I need routine to thrive. Maybe our four children have brought this upon me. I love life to be organized, orderly, and planned, and changes shake that for me. Some changes we can prepare for or even decide to make for ourselves. There are also changes that are thrust upon us by family or life circumstances that we do not get the comfort of anticipating. During these unanticipated changes are the times that I desperately need, though do not always desire, a change of heart to come alongside my circumstance.

rock of agesOver the past year I really have learned to run straight to my Lord and Savior when the overwhelm of change rattles me. As I am daily being sanctified and maturing in the Christian faith, I am able to see God as bigger and more glorious than ever before, and myself as more lowly and dependant on Him than ever before. When the waves of life swell over us, we have a choice. In the good and the bad, we can choose to remain inflexible and stuck in old ways, or come to that beautifully humbling place on our knees begging for help. As Charles Spurgeon once put it, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.”

I often first react in my old ways, not wanting to be inconvenienced or willing to roll with the tides of change. But quickly I find myself reminded that I simply cannot remain in that place, and that I must press in for a change of heart. Not a white-knuckle strong-willed type change of heart, but of asking God for a heart of flesh, not stone. I need a heart willing to become sanctified and gracious and more willing to accept the changes before me. I love these words from God to his people in Old Testament times,

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

I praise God that He is faithful and able to provide abundantly to us, we need only to ask. He will not leave us in change alone. He will be our guide.


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Advertisements

Free to Live at Peace

We live in a world of outrage. War, death, and injustice are happening all around us, in large and seemingly small scales. At any given moment we can read something on Facebook that offends our views, opinions, and even our own selves.

freedom Britney Bradley (1)Is there a different way to live, or must we always be upset at someone or about something? Must we live in a way that feels we are constantly attacked or disrespected? I hope not. There is a way of peace that is not common in the world around us. I believe, in fact, there is a way to live with the awareness of ultimate, everlasting, and eternal peace in our hearts day in and day out. In Jesus’ last days he was able to comfort his friends with this truth found in John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

What a beautiful comfort to the ones who were about to see humanity perfected, Jesus, crucified, and for themselves as some of them would face martyrdom for their own faith.

Attaining this ultimate peace may not be exactly what we dream it to be. This peace that Jesus himself offers us is a hope that sees us through to the end. It does not mean happiness at every corner. It does not mean we will never see true trial and suffering in this life. What the peace of Jesus has to offer us the reassurance that we can go through anything life might throw at us, and be rest assured that our eternity is held in his grip. It means that when we are truly attacked or suffering, we can remember that this life lasts a moment, but our eternity with Him is secure and nothing can strip that away from us.

We can choose to live in certain turmoil, taking on pain that was never ours to bear. We can choose to feel hurt when our cause and views are attacked viciously over the internet. We can choose to respond with outrage towards those who hurt us, letting them have a piece of our minds. Or we could choose to put on the peace that has been given through Jesus on the cross. We CAN choose to not respond out of hurt, but to hold our tongues, knowing that justice isn’t ours alone to be had. In choosing to live at peace in this world we have freedom from so much unnecessarily quarreling and painful relationships.

Britney Bradley FreedomJames tells us:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ~James 1:19-21

Will you join with me in prayer that God would give us his peace, that we would be freed from outrage, and that we would be those who extend His peace into the world around us?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

My Husband’s Legacy

I know this wonderful man. A man that believed his efforts were good enough on their own, who thought he could determine his own destiny. He had prayed a prayer inviting Christ Jesus to enter in and take control of his life, but didn’t let go. Not fully understanding how that prayer he prayed would actually change his life he stayed in his sin. So this young man grew in the confidence that his self-efforts were making him successful. And he tried to find rest in his achievements: business owner by age 17, plus a husband, homeowner, and rescue dog by age 20.

Brian Bradley (3)While this man knew all along that sin broke the heart of God, but had a hard time being affected by that. The man believed he knew what was best and that surely God would agree with him. He carried on until the day when temporal triumphs crashed in, and all he thought secure threatened to fail. At age 22 he felt the severing cut of divorce, while business struggles constricted around the life he had built. To his knees he fell as he bowed before God, desperate for Him for the first time. He placed the motives of his heart on display to the God who already knew them, and got real. He literally cried out to God, questioning His goodness in this life. The man came to the place that God had wanted him to be all along, completely at his end and unable on his own.

There are many facets at work in this man’s journey and his learning to utterly depend on Christ. It is beautiful to see the incredible and deep healing that Christ did in his life, turning him around completely. This man has now led several people to the redeeming grace of Christ, and has discipled many in the ways since his own surrender.

I know this story well, for this man has been my husband of almost 7 years. The things that God has done to change his life have been a blessing to me and our children. He is a loving, devoted husband, a fun, caring dad, and leads in our church as one of the church’s pastors.

Two years ago my husband and I sat down with his grandparents to talk about the family tree. As we peeled back layer by layer of his paternal family’s history, we learned something that still brings us to tears. After years of feeling like the only pastor type in his family. My husband discovered what he thought to be true was a misunderstanding. In the retelling of generations past it was revealed to us that there is a long line of preachers in his ancestry. A great grandfather, a great-great grandfather, and many great uncles generations back. I think we may have lost count after seven different small town pastors / preachers in the family line emerged from the pages of his descendants. That day we inherited an old Bible that was preached from and written in by his great grandfather, a man who most likely planted seeds of prayer for those who would someday be born into his family line. Stories of joy and loss were listed on the front page, and it was absolutely incredible to read about the journey of faith that had been hidden from our knowledge, but that still wove a legacy.

Prayer for childrenAs I think about the legacy we want to leave for our children and their children and down through the generations. I think of all the things I want to be known for. In actuality, it’s a little bit vain when I base the hopes on myself and what they will remember of me. However, when I look back down the line and see that people in my daughter’s ancestry, even hundreds of years back, loved Jesus and devoted their lives to serving Him, I am so overwhelmed with gratitude, and I too begin to pray for generations to come.

My husband is a living example of a man who lays down his life daily for his family, taking sacrifices upon himself for our well-being. I love that my children get to look at his life, and see Jesus reflected. I am deeply inspired that it is not just his life, generations of the faithfulness of God are intertwined with in their bloodline. It encourages me to dream about how the story of God at work in our lives will be told to those who may never know us. How curiosity may one day lead a young man or woman to look back with wonder about the works of our Mighty God.

Come what may, my prayer for my children is that they will surrender to Him who loves them most. That they will use the gifting God has given them in a way that will glorify Him as they follow fearlessly in the calling He has for them. And that they would open their Bibles in times of sorrow and joy to proclaim to the generations, “Look what God has done!”

 

“That the generation to come might know,

even the children yet to be born,

That they may arise and tell them to their children,

That they should put their confidence in God

And not forget the works of God,

But keep His commandments,” Psalm 78:6-7


Readers, Thank you for going through this series on legacy with us. What legacy would you like to leave?

britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Listening to the Father

There is a small passage in the Bible that has stood out to me for years:

But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.’”~Samuel 15:22

While we no longer live in an era of animal sacrifices to atone for our sins (thank you Jesus), this verse is still applicable. God desires obedience from us. It is a beautiful offering. We live in a world that jokingly encourages, “it is better to ask forgiveness than permission,” and we are tempted to exchange the truth for a lie. We find ourselves drawn to living for momentary pleasures, and forsake pursuing the enduring beauty of a disciplined life.

Obedience Britney BradleyWhen I knowingly sin against my Lord, I shamefully think to myself, “I can ask forgiveness for this,” which really means that I am choosing disobedience now and then beg for forgiveness later. Oh the conviction that floods over me when I put off obedience and choose to sin. This passage in 1 Samuel has opened wide my eyes. God desires that we obey His commands. Why disobey and lament later? Don’t I know that He loves me? Don’t I know that He desires relationship with me, not the disconnection that disobedience brings? Don’t I see how hurtful my sin really is?

These are the questions I find myself going over and over again in my mind and heart. Let me tell you, friends, it is EXHAUSTING. However, when I am choosing spiritual discipline (reading the Word of God and speaking with him in prayer) light begins to shine on the disobedient heart. As a mother of three I deal with disobedience daily, and when I draw near to my Savior, it becomes quickly apparent that the misbehaviors of my children offer a glimpse into my own heart. However, on days when I have gotten “behind” and “have no time” to spend dedicated to Christ, I become blinded by my sins. When I am blinded by my own sins, I become infinitely more frustrated with the sins of my children, because my heart is not properly oriented. I become quick to forget that I am just as sinful as my three children combined toward my heavenly Father who knows and loves me.

britney bradley obedience (2)The Lord teaches me much about my own sinful heart by allowing me to see the same rebellion in my children. It amazes me how hurt or insulted I feel when I am sinned against. When my kids do not obey me, and I am not close to Christ myself, I forget how offensive my sins are towards God, and I lose sight of how obedience to Him is GOOD for me. I forget it is one of the ways I show my love for Him.
Readers and friends, I want to challenge you with this. If you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior, please do not use him as a genie in a bottle, only asking favors of him or complaining to him. He is so much more than that. Please consider the importance of obedience to the perfect Father in your daily life decisions. Who better to trust and obey than the One who loves you and has given His all to claim you as his own? I am motivated by this challenge myself, and I pray that choosing obedience will bring you into deeper relationship with Him.


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Renewed Strength

I have been in a season of constant minor sickness amongst my family. Be it a common virus or my children having a bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, it never seems to stop. It is one thing after another during these winter months, and honestly I feel isolated which gets depressing at times. I have needed to skip out on events that I would have loved to be at, not been able to see the faces of friends I love dearly, and let my husband go to things I no longer can, so that my children and I can rest. I know I chose rightly, but alas, often find myself feeling lonely.

Losing physical strength from being sick, even with a common cold, can cause me to reflect on life in an interesting way. I want to feel better, now. I want my kids to be better, now. I refute the persistence of the waiting process, because I feel like I miss out on life. In fact, I even sometimes succumb to despair and wonder if we will always be weak and never get better. Full health and capacity never to be seen again.

Then I reflect on this amazing passage from Isaiah:

renewed-strength“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

I am reminded of where the renewal of strength truly comes from. It is not just from being at peak physical health, because that can quickly fail me. It does not come from a fun night out with my friends or husband, because the next day quickly approaches. It does not even come from a week long vacation in Hawaii even that can be totally exhausting.

True renewing strength, the kind that lasts and upholds us through to the end, can only come from God. Nothing that the world has tried to offer me as the cure to my weariness reaches beyond the moment and into the eternal places. Time with my Lord, and true devotion to Him, is what gives my soul strength to press on and take heart.

strength-renewedI run to my savior in prayer, telling Him every worry and desire that is in my heart. I long to hear from Him in those desperate moments; I long for Him at every moment. So I spend time reading His word and drawing on the timeless truths that He generously gives through the Bible. I look for Him through the colds and chaos and find He is bigger than it all.

Receiving strength from the One who knows the depth of my weakness, He who created the whole world, the Savior who cleanses my heart, only here do I find the renewal that will last. As this passage in Isaiah says, He gives power to the faint, and He increases our strength. Our bodies will grow weary, yet He can make us soar. Truths like the one found in Isaiah encourage me when I feel like giving up and  awaken my desire to turn to the God who sustains us for all of our days.


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Gentleness,Motherhood, and the Ways of Jesus

Since the day I became a mother, the value of gentleness has been impressed upon my heart. I have observed many mothers as they parent their children. I watch, and I learn. I knew early on that one quality I deeply desired to emulate was that of the grace of gentleness. Before I even had my first child, I knew that I wanted to be a mother who was gentle, especially, with my words.  I saw and still see it as a way of loving and caring for the impressionable hearts of the children God has given me. Since then, my husband and I have been blessed with two more children, now having 3 daughters. I realize now in the business of our large family that, even for the most tender of people, perpetual gentleness does not come as naturally or as easily as I thought. In moments of hurry, giving a soft answer is downright hard.  When in the midst of constant questioning, exhaustion, and the need to lovingly discipline, an amiable response feels far from my lips. I strive to be gentle with my husband and my girls, but when I am home and frustration sets in, I go to battle within myself. I am so far from where I want to be, thank God for Jesus.

When I look to the gentleness of other, much more incredible mothers, I am inspired. When I look to the gentleness of Jesus, I am utterly wrecked. I love Romans 5:8 saying, “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He asked God, His Father, to forgive the very ones who were nailing him to the cross, mocking his name. He had every right to get down from that cross, yell thunderous booms in the soldiers faces, and let a legion of angels take them to justice. He could have climbed right down from that cross and turned the tables on each of the men who were mocking, beating, spitting on, and murdering him. But he was silent. “Like a lamb led to the slaughter… he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)

Jesus’ sacrifice on that cross encompassed every good thing. In His crucifixion can be found every element of the fruit of the spirit and so much more. I see gentleness. Gentleness, in its quiet nonimposing way, speaks more mightily than we give it credit for. Not just in how Jesus acted during the crucifixion, but in how he deals with me, the one who’s punishment he took. I am all too much like my 2 1/2 year old daughter. I seek my way and throw tantrums at God. At times I get red faced, frantic, stomp my feet and want to run to my room, away from the God who gently calls my name. Yet, He loves me. He stands there and waits. Even when I am being defiant toward him, he pursues me and his gentle words pierce the depths of my soul. You see, not only was he gentle that one time, that time on the cross, but he is gentle every single moment of every single day. We do not deserve him, but he gave himself up for us, to freely accept his gift of eternal life. And it’s not a “use it or lose it” affair. It is as my children’s Bible says, “a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”

Because of what Jesus did for me, I can look to Him when I want to snap at my kids. I search for Him when I want to yell at my husband and shake my fist at God. Only because of Him, because of Jesus, can I ever cultivate gentleness in my home.

~~~

Readers, How have you experienced gentleness in your life? How did it surprise or change you?

A huge thank you to our guest poster, Britney Bradley!  If you are interested in submitting a piece for consideration you can find the details on our submissions page.